"high school!au where they're on a field trip to an art museum and luhan has a super obvious crush on lay but he thinks lay doesn't get it and cuteness and sneaky kissing ensues"
“I really don’t understand why we couldn’t just drive ourselves.”
Xiumin is all bunched up in his seat looking cranky and tired and staring pointedly at the rain. He and Luhan are sitting together in a school bus, on their way with the rest of Studio Art 1 to the Beijing Institute of the Arts. He’s always cranky when he has to do anything related to this class, be it homework or being in the classroom or this field trip. It was his third choice elective - as he’s told Luhan many times, he could have taken Film Analysis and just watched movies all hour if his dean hadn’t screwed his schedule up.
Luhan, however, signed up for Studio Art 1 because he needed the credit and how bad could it be? His mother knew the teacher, Mrs. Song, so she had requested him as her student aid anyway. It means an extra hour in the art room after everyone has left, cleaning tables and re-sorting art supplies. It’s pretty much mindless work and he likes have the opportunity to think.
“Oh,” Xiumin leans into him, “your starving artist looks like he could use some company.”
He gestures to the seat but Luhan already knows where to look. Lay is sitting on the other side of the aisle, two rows ahead of them, alone in the half-full bus. He doesn’t seem to mind, though, listening to music with his temple leaned against the window and his eyes closed. It makes the tendons in his neck stand out. Luhan swallows.
He and Lay aren’t strangers, but Luhan isn’t forward enough to call them friends. Their first class together was last year’s PreCalc, where Lay had doodled all hour and still done better than Luhan. He developed a sort of budding admiration, and started falling hard this semester in Studio Art. Lay’s quiet, but wicked smart and funny and charming, too, and he’s someone who Luhan could work silently across a table from without feeling pressured to make conversation. Sometimes he just watched Lay work; the other didn’t notice, always so focused.
“You know, if you get up to go sit with him, or fall up the aisle and into his lap, I’m not going to be offended.”
Luhan hits him, admittedly kind of hard, on the thigh. Xiu Min whines, then snorts.
“You’re hopeless. You’re so obsessed. Does he know you’re his secret admirer yet?”
Secret admirer is a relatively accurate term. Every time they finish a project, Mrs. Song assigns every student someone else’s piece to critique. It’s anonymous or not, depending the critiquer. And after everyone leaves, Luhan always makes a point to find Lay’s and critique it.
He’s terribly biased, but Lay deserves it. His stuff is quality, well done, like he actually puts thought into it. Luhan tries not to gush over his charcoal drawings or still lifes, and tries even harder to focus on the art and not Lay, but it gets more difficult with every project.
Lay sits up, suddenly, and stretches out his neck. He turns his head a little and catches Luhan’s eyes. He offers a polite smile and Luhan waves, smiling so big he can feel his cheeks smushing up his eyes. After waving, when Lay turns away, he fixes his bangs and tries to will away the rising color in his cheeks. Xiumin snorts again.
“You’re honestly a trainwreck.”
Luhan has always preferred to be alone at art museums. He really likes the contemplative silence and doesn’t like feeling tethered to someone when he’s walking around, observing. Luckily, once they’re at the Institute and Mrs. Song allows them to disperse, Xiumin shows that he understands Luhan’s desire for solitude.
“We can get back together at lunch,” Xiumin says, eyes following Zitao’s ass down a hallway of abstract paintings before heading in that same direction.
The museum isn’t too crowded, probably because it’s a weekday, and the halls are vacant and white. Luhan wanders upstairs, through a huge gallery of different colored stained-glass bottles. From this collection he finds a collection of semi-surrealist pictures and sculptures, including a milk carton twice his height.
This one is a room with a projector up high, filling the opposite wall with a movie on loop. It starts with black tops being poured out onto a cement surface, and the duration of the film is just them spinning, knocking each other over, some being added or twirling away. The whirring of their needles is almost cacophonous but eventually becomes a relaxing drone.
Luhan sits down on one of the plush backless benches and watches. He’s the only one there from his school; there’s an older couple sitting in a far corner. The video is only five minutes long, but he can hardly tell when it repeats, mesmerized by the beautiful movement.
The couch dipping next to him breaks his concentration. He assumes it’s Xiumin, tired from his pursuits and needing a rest, and keeps watching. Without turning his head, he asks, “Couldn’t find any sculptures to feel up Zitao behind?”
Luhan turns his head so fast he almost gives himself whiplash. Instead of Xiumin he’s sitting with Lay, who now looks like he’s been very wrongfully accused.
“Oh God,” Luhan blurts, “I thought you were someone else, I’m sorry, wow, I – “
“Xiumin? Zitao and Xiumin? Is that a thing?” Lay sort of cocks his head and Luhan could coo.
“No, I mean…it’s just a joke, it’s not like…”
“I could see it,” Lay continues as if Luhan didn’t say anything. “I mean, they’re different, but Xiumin seems like a spoiler and I think Zitao secretly likes being spoiled.”
Luhan hasn’t thought about it so he shrugs. “Yeah, probably.”
They sit in silence for a moment.
“Have you seen the libraries exhibiton?” Lay asks. “It’s supposed to be amazing. Really extensive. We should go.”
Luhan is sort of in shocked silence so Lay stands up and starts walking. Cursing himself, Luhan jumps up and falls in step with him, being led upstairs.
The exhibition is amazing, with beautiful photographs and scale models of libraries from
Luhan’s phone vibrates. It’s Xiumin, asking if he wants to come eat with him, and then telling him he has to because he doesn’t want to eat alone.
“He gets anxious about people thinking he has no friends,” Luhan explains. “You should come too, he won’t mind.”
Lay nods and follows him and Luhan has to restrain his smile.
Xiumin doesn’t ask Luhan about Lay when they get to the café, to Luhan’s relief. He does the most talking, mostly to Luhan, while Lay eats and nods. Lay can eat a lot for someone as slender as he is, and Xiumin eyes him with jealousy.
After lunch, all three meander around the first floor. They’re looking at a collection of images from the industrial American Midwest when Xiumin gets a text.
“I…my friend wants me to look at this creepy movie exhibit with him, something about over-consumption, and he gets upset really easily, so, I’m gonna go…do that.”
He smiles a little awkwardly before leaving. Lay sort of gestures towards the door.
“Let’s go too, there’s another installation that I’ve wanted to see.”
As they’re walking to the opposite end of the level, Luhan keeps one hand as flat at his side as he can, level with Lay’s, to see if he tries anything. He mumbles a ‘sorry’ when their fingers brush together, but Lay links their pinky fingers together and swings their arms forward and back. Something boils in Luhan and his tightens his finger.
Soon they reach a pair of beautiful white doors, with a small sign outside describing the installation, entitled “Madame Curie”. Lay pulls open the heavy marble door and ushers Luhan inside.
The room is composed of four high walls and a black tiled floor and ceiling. It’s another exhibit that uses a projector, but this one is panoramic. Three walls are completely covered in minutely moving multicolored dots and green lines. The room rings with a sort of bright, static-like sound. Luhan looks closer and sees that the things on the walls are tiny flowers.
“Marsh marigolds,” Lay points to a cluster of yellow. “Had them in my nature composition.”
They watch the walls buzz and sway with reds and blues and golds, the constant hum of a hot summer day the only sound.
Lay sighs and Luhan looks at him. The only light in the room comes from the fluttering walls. They give Lay’s face an eerie glow, make the lines in his face all the more sharp. His eyes look huge and dark and deep and Luhan can’t stop staring.
Lay turns to him and smiles. “I’ve been meaning to ask you something, actually. You’re Mrs. Song’s student aid, right?” Luhan nods.
“Well, whenever we do critiques, you know, I always end up with two, and I think the extras are always from the same person. Would you know anything about that? Have you noticed anyone coming in after class?”
Luhan tries not to be phased. “No, I haven’t seen anyone.”
Lay looks as if he’s trying not to smile. “Well, if you do, would you mind telling him something for me?”
Lay is now so close that Luhan can count his eyelashes. “Tell him that I think he’s very cute, and sweet, and if he likes me he should stop trying to hide it, because he’s not hiding anything. And I’d like to go out with him sometime. And he should kiss me.”
“I’ll tell him,” Luhan murmurs and closes his eyes.
Their first kiss is soft and light, Lay just pressing his lips against Luhan’s. His bottom lip is a little chapped but Luhan doesn’t mind. He’s tense with happiness and excited nerves. Lay pulls away, licks his lips, and puts a tentative hand on Luhan’s hip. This time they press deeper, Luhan pulling Lay in with a hand on his shoulder. The only thing keeping him from kissing Lay until they pass out is the distant knowledge that they’re in a public museum along with their art teacher and fellow students and Xiumin.
When they finally separate, their fingers linger on each other for as long as possible. They keep eye contact until Lay looks away with a self-conscious snort.
“So,” Luhan rocks on his heels, “we have 40 minutes until we have to go back to the bus, where do you want to go?”
Lay shrugs. Then his eyes light up.
“When I was looking for you, earlier, I found their arboretum out back. Not too many people were in it, and it’s enclosed, and we wouldn’t have to walk far in the rain.”
“Are you trying to get me alone, Lay?”
Lay slides an arm around Luhan’s waist and pouts. “And why would I do that?”
When they’re the last two on the bus, and end up sitting together, Xiumin raises his eyebrows from his window seat next to Zitao. When Luhan turns around to smile at him and his shirt collar slides to show the red mark on his collarbone, Xiumin rolls his eyes, then turns to stare out the window with a sardonic smile.
A/N: once upon a time my goth princess Lauren prompted me with Layhan in an art museum and bless that idea because I love art museums. all the exhibits mentioned in this are things that I've seen and remembered, except for the surrealism one because no one ever takes me to the Walker >:c here are links to them in order:
Gralglas. 1930-1981. Examples of German Design (I don't German so that's the google-trans version)
A Morir (I think I was in DC when I saw it tho)
The Wisdom of Building a House - Architecture and History of Libraries (was so sick)
John Girrard's exhibition (couldn't find a title, idk but this unsettled me so much)
Madame Curie (fave fave fave)